Posts Tagged ‘ 2012 Olympics Games ’

Olympic Wisdom: Advice on Raising Young Athletes

Monday, August 6th, 2012

While I was in London for the Olympics, I had the privilege to speak with several current Olympians, moms of Olympians, and former Olympic competitors. I asked them all for the best advice they would give to young children–and their parents–who are starting to get interested in sports and might be dreaming of competing in the Olympics someday.

Here is the advice they gave:

Margie Walsh, mother of beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh-Jennings:
Margie WalshI would tell them to dream big. Even if they aren’t going to be Olympic athletes, it’s okay to dream big. Support them and encourage them and tell them they can do anything they want to do. They’ll know when they don’t love it anymore, and they’ll know when it’s time to give it up. But it’s got to be their choice to play, and it’s got to be their choice to give it up. And if they’re just tired, you don’t let them give it up yet. And if they’re not good enough to get to the next level, just remind them of what they have achieved. Support them, encourage them, love them, and listen to them. And make sure it’s their dream, and they want it.

Christian Laettner, former Olympic basketball player:
Have your kid play as many sports as he can. Nowadays, the parents and coaches want to have them focus in on just basketball at age 12 or 13. You don’t have to focus in on your one sport until maybe 16 years old.

Diana Lopez, taekwondo star:
Stick to something you believe in and don’t ever quit. Here I am, a two-time Olympian. In 2004 I barely made the Olympic team, and I was crushed after that, but my parents always taught us to persevere, to keep going and to do your best, no matter what obstacles may come. And here I am.

Diana Lopez won the bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2008 Games and is currently competing in London.

Gary Hall Jr., former Olympic swimmer:
You have to start somewhere, and it’s never the top. If you stick to something long enough and you love it, eventually you will be successful.

There are life skills that are instilled, qualities that are taken away from a playing field or swimming pool, and you may not be able to appreciate that when you’re a 12-year-old youth soccer player. But later on in life, you start applying those things you learn to other things that aren’t necessarily sports related.

Gary Hall Jr. won 10 medals over three Olympics, 1996, 2000, and 2004.

More Wisdom: Parents.com Olympics Interviews

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Basketball Star Maya Moore on Her First Olympics

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Maya MooreMaya Moore is playing in her first Olympics as the youngest member of the U.S. women’s basketball team. But Moore, 23, is already a professional player, a forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. If she’s nervous about being on the Olympic stage, Moore doesn’t show it, displaying the poise and confidence of a veteran who’s done her share of media appearances.

Moore spoke briefly today at a barbecue at the P&G Family Home, a space here in London for Olympic athletes and their families. The topic was American patriotism, and Moore had the day’s winning quote: “When I think about the heart of this country, I think of my mom.” Later, I sat down for a short interview with Moore, as her mom sat nearby.

How long have you been preparing to be in the Olympics?

My whole life. As a kid, you don’t necessarily know if you’re going to get the opportunity, but as I got a little bit older and I was able to see the Olympics as a potential opportunity, I just worked for it. I’ve been soaking up every moment and making sure that I’m doing whatever I need to be doing to help this team win.

At what point did you realize that basketball was more than a hobby, that it could be a career?

Right around middle school. You start thinking about what you want to be, what your skills are. At least I did. And I saw that going to college, playing basketball, that’s a possibility, so let’s go for it. Every level that I go up, I look up to the next level. After high school, I looked to college, and going to college, the pros was always something I wanted to do, knowing we had a professional league to go to.

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Seeking and Finding the Olympic Spirit in London

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

London OlympicsLondon is bustling for sure, but aside from the Olympics-only traffic lanes and occasional five-ring flag, you wouldn’t necessarily know from wandering around that the Summer Games are in town. There are, of course, reminders such as the display of flags in the shadow of Big Ben (pictured to the right). But overall, London and its tourists are going about business as usual, it seems. Even the taxi drivers are saying that the expected traffic nightmares have not materialized.

Find yourself in any Olympics-related place, and the story, of course, is entirely different. For me, I’ve experienced it up close at the P&G Family Home, where athletes and their families gather to relax and socialize. Many former Olympians are around, still connected to their former teammates and to the Games as a whole (and, truth be told, paid to be there as spokespeople). The Olympic spirit, a sheer enthusiasm for all things Games related, pervades the place. And I’ve been privileged to spend time here, thanks to Procter & Gamble, which is funding my trip.

The athletes and their families may come to the Home to escape the intensity of the Games, but they still gather at the omnipresent TV sets to watch, clap, and cheer for their fellow athletes at their events. No one’s gawking at the many celebrities around, but no one’s oblivious to it all, either. There’s Gabby Douglas’s mom! Shawn Johnson just walked by! Did you hear that Michael (that would be Michael Phelps to the rest of us) broke the record? And is that girl who just passed by wearing a silver medal?!

I’ve had my share of these moments—that was a silver medal around that unidentified girl’s neck—and it’s impossible not to be swept up by it. I rode the van back to my hotel with the mom of weightlifter Sarah Robles, and we chatted about her daughter’s accomplishments and what it feels like to be at the Olympics. Though at home I am glued to the TV for any Olympics, I am not by nature a fanatical Olympics fan. Here there are only fans, and happily so.

Tonight I got to see the actual Olympics. You know, the sporting events that take place between the pomp and ceremony and festivities. It was awe-inspiring to walk through Olympic Park, the site of many of the Games’ biggest events, on my way to the Aquatic Center to attend an evening of swimming. There was a different race every few minutes, plus a couple of medal ceremonies thrown in.

I got to see familiar names win their semifinal (Lochte, Phelps), and someone new to me, Nathan Adrian, take home gold for the U.S. (pictured at right). Hearing our national anthem playing and seeing our flag rising to the ceiling gave me goose bumps. I loved seeing fans from around the globe waving their own flags in the audience and hearing small pockets of cheers when an athlete from, say, Hungary or Columbia was introduced.

We hear so often that the Olympics bring the world together, and that phrase can lose its meaning from the repetition. Being here, though, I feel its meaning deeply. And for me, I’ve come to understand what it means that the Olympics is something larger than a series of athletic competitions.

 And, just for fun, a few more pictures from today:

Olympics Rings

Follow Parents on Twitter and Instagram for the latest from London.

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Olympic Dreams: Parents in London

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

How do you know if you are raising a future Olympic athlete? What if her love of somersaults and flips could make her the next Shawn Johnson? What if she really is the fastest runner or highest jumper or most synchronized swimmer on the planet?

I’m not asking because I think my couch-potato self actually produced an athlete who’ll compete in the 2024 Summer Games. But it’s not just about athletics: How do you know if your kid’s sweet singing voice is Broadway material, or if her drum-banging signals the perfect ear for music and not just a love of noise?

To put it another way, what really nags at me is: When should we push our children to develop and deepen their interests and talents, and when should we step back and follow their often-apathetic lead? When should we stand our ground and insist they stay in that swimming class or keep practicing that piano teacher, even when their inclination is to want to quit?

I am posing these questions not just to muse–welcome to my Inner Father Insecurity #437–but because I am going in search of answers. Yes, I am heading to London for the Olympics, with many, many thanks to Proctor & Gamble, which is funding the trip as part of its ”Thank You, Mom” campaign.

It’s a tough assignment, but I am doing my journalistic duty and will report back on what I find out.  While I am there I will be interviewing as many athletes–and their moms or dads–as I can. In addition to asking them how it feels to, you know, compete in the Summer Olympics, I will also be interrogating them on when they started focusing on their sport (“Did those diapers slow you down, Mr. Phelps?”), and how they knew.

As children, how did they realize that this sport is their passion, that they’d rather be in the pool or gym than doing whatever it is their peers were doing all those years? As parents, how did they decide to allow their children at such young ages to focus their lives so intently and uncompromisingly on this passion?

I, will, of course, let you know what I find out. Check back here on Goodyblog for my posts from London, and follow us on Twitter–we’re @ParentsMagazine–to experience it with me. I will also be shooting as many pictures as I can and posting them to our Instagram account, which is also @ParentsMagazine. And don’t miss the rest of our Olympics coverage, including craft and party ideas!

But before I go, I want to ask: What would you like me to ask the Olympic athletes and their parents? Post your questions in the comments section below or on our Facebook page, and I will try to ask as many as possible.

Image courtesy London 2012.

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Meeting Debbie Phelps, Amazing Mom of Olympian Michael Phelps

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Yesterday, I found myself a little awestruck when I met Debbie Phelps (mom of Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps), who is a warm, effusive, and gregarious woman — someone I could see myself talking to and with for hours, over endless cups of coffee and warm pastries.

Debbie was in New York City with her daughter, Hilary, on behalf of The Century Council, a non-profit with the mission to fight underage drinking and drunk driving through their Ask. Listen. Learn. program.  Debbie had appeared on the Today Show before sitting down for an intimate lunch with some mom bloggers and online media folk to talk about her involvement in the program and to share some parenting stories from her 2009 memoir, “A Mother for All Seasons.”

She discussed her son’s own arrest for a DUI at age 19.  Even though he had been taught that it was wrong and dangerous to drink and drive, he still made the mistake.  “We all fall on our faces,” she said, but the key was to continue teaching values. “We need to instill what’s already known to [our kids] and to enforce and enhance it.”  According to The Century Council, parents are the leading provider of alcohol to underage kids and the average drinking age is 11.  As a result, it’s important for “parents to model good and bad behavior through what they do and don’t do.”

Even after Debbie and her husband divorced, she didn’t stop or slow down her busy schedule.  Before relocating to Baltimore to be closer to a better swim facility, she drove her three kids (Hilary, the second daughter Whitney, and Michael) two hours each way, at different hours and on different days, to various swim practices and competitions.  Both her daughters trained at Olympic levels before Michael became the youngest swimmer (at 15) to make the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  In the midst of kinetic and emotional moments, known as “DP moments,” Debbie and her family relied on having “calmness and composure,” always taking time to release tension and address big issues with quiet steadiness.  To remind herself and her children to always maintain an even-keeled manner, she cups her hand into a “C” and holds it up as a sign.

As Michael heads to the London Olympics (which is being touted as his last Olympics), Debbie is looking forward to taking a real vacation with her family (after having put off a trip to Disney for years).  Even though she is a principal at a middle school in Baltimore, she is thinking about heading back to school herself and getting a post doctorate degree. She aims to live life to the fullest.

When asked about the best parenting advice she received, Debbie shared two.  For swimming it was, “Never pack or carry [your child's] swim bags” (translation: let your child be independent and self-sufficient!). For raising kids it was, “Let them think for themselves” (translation: let them be individuals!).

Follow Debbie Phelps on Twitter at @mamaphelpsH20 | Read blog posts by Hilary Phelps at hilary-phelps.com

More Parents.com features on the Olympics:

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Celeb Moms Share Their Summer Plans

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Summer PlansThis post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Grab your flip flops and sunscreen, it’s time for some fun in the sun!

With summer upon us, we asked a few of our favorite celebrity moms about their fun family plans. Laila Ali and her kids will hit the beach, Shannon Miller is gearing up for the Summer Olympic Games in London and Kimora Lee Simmons and her three kids have poolside plans. Read on…

 Laila Ali:

Former boxer Laila Ali and husband, NFL star Curtis Conway, are parents to two kids: son C.J.who turns 4 in August, and 1-year-old daughter Sydney. The Dancing with the Stars alum opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their upcoming summer plans.

“I plan to do a lot of swimming and I want to enroll my son in official swimming lessons and get Sydney in the water,” Laila said. “I want to do a lot of outdoor activities, like take them to the beach. We haven’t really done that, because I wanted to wait until my son was old enough. You have to be careful with the kids and sand; I don’t want that situation where my daughter gets sand in her eyes. I want to take my son to the beach and do a lot of swimming, and maybe get him on the back of a bike. A lot of outdoor activities.”

Kimora Lee Simmons:

Kimora Lee Simmons is accustomed to life in the fab lane! The model-entrepreneur is mom to daughters Ming Lee, 12, and Aoki Lee, nearly 10, with ex-husband Russell Simmons. The reality TV star is also mom to son Kenzo, 3, with husband, actor and model Djimon Hounsou. The mom-of-three opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their upcoming summer plans.

“This summer, everyone is working,” Kimora said. “I’m launching Shinto Clinical all over the world, Djimon is on-set filming, the girls have summer activities, Kenzo has a little camp he’s going to – but i know we’ll have fun. I honestly wouldn’t mind spending more time around the pool. Maybe grill out…that sounds fab to me!”

Nicole Sullivan:

$#*! My Dad Says star and Jenny Brand Ambassador Nicole Sullivan and her husband, actor Jason Packham, are proud parents to sons Dash, 5, and Beckett, 2 1/2. The actress opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their summer plans.

We went camping with my older son’s preschool class this past weekend,” Nicole said. “Imagine 50 kids under 6. Oooof! We are also going to Connecticut to visit my cousins and their kids. We do it every year and it’s always so fun. We get to say things like, ‘Kids go outside and play.’ “

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